Both drivers and passengers can suffer serious injuries during a car crash, and one that may change their lives forever is a spinal injury. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that more than 17,000 people suffer spinal trauma in the United States each year, and car accidents remain the leading cause of such an injury.
Understanding who is most at risk for crash-related spinal injuries may help motorists protect themselves and their passengers each time they get behind the wheel.
A significant portion of individuals who experience a spinal injury during a car accident are men; in fact, nearly 80% of new cases in 2018 involved male drivers and passengers. This data gap may occur for a variety of reasons, including:
- A greater number of male drivers
- A higher tendency for risk-taking behavior
- Inexperience in young male drivers
Male drivers may also experience incidents of road rage more often, which can lead to aggressive driving and an increased risk of a crash.
Drivers in their 40s are at a higher risk for spinal injuries during a car crash. The median age rose over the past three decades despite improvements in car safety features, including side-impact airbags. Middle-age drivers and passengers may also have other underlying medical problems that could increase the risk of suffering a spinal injury during a car crash.
The number of unmarried drivers who suffer a spinal injury during a car accident far outpaces married drivers. Single individuals may take more risks behind the wheel or drive smaller cars with fewer safety features than those who have spouses and children.
Many individuals who experience a crash-related spinal injury may require new or repeated medical treatment the year following the incident. When spinal trauma involves paralysis, the prognosis for recovery is usually poor.